Heat stroke, head injury, poisoning and epilepsy can all cause your dog to have convulsions. Witnessing your dog having convulsions is an alarming and unpleasant experience, but the most important thing to remember is that seizures are not immediately life-threatening. With that in mind, you should focus on minimizing risk of injury to your dog and comforting him when the seizure passes.
Observe Your Dog’s Behavior
You may notice your dog pacing, trembling, blinking unusually or otherwise behaving oddly in the moments or minutes prior to experiencing convulsions. If your dog has never had a seizure before, it may not occur to you that one may be imminent, but if you do have the presence of mind to identify the symptoms, do your best to clear the room of other animals and children. Pet owners who’ve been through a seizure with their dog may be more familiar with the particular indicators that precede a seizure in their dog.
Call for Help
If necessary, call an adult, preferably one experienced with dogs, to assist you. Ask them to bring you a blanket, to shut off any noise and to close the curtains or dim the lights. The most important thing to remember here is not to panic. As distressing as the sight of a convulsing dog is, it will pass. Your dog is temporarily losing control of his body and going into a spasm.
Get His Attention
In some cases, a mild convulsive episode can be averted if you are able to get your dog’s attention before he begins seizing. This doesn’t always work and is less likely to do so if the dog is about to have a severe convulsive episode.
Make Your Dog Safe
If your dog was playing with a toy, remove it from his mouth. Don’t attempt to put your hand or fingers into his mouth. While in rare cases a dog may begin to choke on his tongue, it is typically not necessary to intervene. If your dog is close to a wall or steps, move him to a safe place by grabbing his paws and gently sliding him along the floor. Don’t attempt to pick him up. A convulsing dog may be difficult to hold securely, and the risk of injury from dropping him is too great.
Cover Your Dog
Once the convulsions have ceased, gently place a blanket or sheet over your dog’s head. This will enable him to gradually come around without being dazzled or startled by the presence of people. He may be disorientated and confused, so gently prevent him from getting up . Stroke and comfort the little guy for as long as he wants and bring him a bowl of water. Dogs may foam at the mouth during convulsions, which can lead to dehydration.
Consult a Veterinarian
If your dog has had a convulsion for the first time, take him straight to the vet. Retain as much information as possible about the convulsion -- for example, length, range of body movement and any potential contributing stimuli, such as loud noises, flashing lights or stress. If your dog has had convulsions before, take him to the vet if the most recent episode didn't fit the pattern of previous occurrences -- for example, if it was longer or more intense than usual. Only if you're entirely confident the convulsion was the result of a known condition -- such as epilepsy -- and you're sure your dog has fully recovered, should you consider not consulting a vet.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.